Skip to main content

tv   Authors Discuss the Preservation of Americas Founding Documents  CSPAN  January 7, 2017 1:30pm-2:28pm EST

1:30 pm
so much and so often now, that isn't the case at all. development is not linear, in many cases we're going back, in many cases we're seeing forms of government that we never expected. and at one point it's said that it represented what happens in the white emptiness of a liberated nothing. and that also evokes -- [inaudible] in the sense that it's not, it's not necessarily that hard to overturn a president, to get a president to leave, but what's much, much harder is figuring out what's going to come into that space and sort of trying to remake a government. >> "after words" airs on booktv every saturday at 10 p.m. and sunday at 9 p.m. eastern. you can watch all previous "after words" programs on our web site, booktv.org. >> and now on booktv, the bill
1:31 pm
of rights day book festival held annually at the national constitution center in philadelphia in december. first up is a discussion on preserving america's founding documents. >> happy 225th anniversary of the bill of rights! [applause] wonderful. well, the national constitution center, as one or two of you may be aware, is the only institution in america chartered by congress to disseminate information about the u.s. constitution on a nonpartisan basis. and we are so thrilled to celebrate with you bill of rights day and the 225th anniversary of the bill of rights. so some history, to review. september 17th, 1787, the constitution is proposed by the constitutional convention. it does not contain a bill of rights. why? because madison says that a bill of rights would be unnecessary or dangerous.
1:32 pm
unnecessary because the constitution itself is a bill of rights, and by constraining congress' power and the president's power, it gives the federal government no authority to infringe the retained unalienable, natural rights of conscience and speech and other basic liberties. and dangerous because madison said if you write down certain rights in the bill of rights, people might wrongly assume that if a right isn't written down, it's not protected. and because the framers believed that we have certain unalienable rights that come from god or nature, not from government, it was dangerous to try to confine them to a definite list. but because of the heroic protests of the anti-federalists led by the three gentlemen that you can see just outside here in signers hall, george mason -- author of the virginia declaration of rights -- edmond randolph of virginia and el bridge gary of matts, society anti-federalists refused to sign the constitution because it
1:33 pm
contained no bill of rights, and the state ratifying conventions demanded a bill of rights. so congress sets the bill of rights out for ratification because james madison changes his mind in the face of this popular protest. and on september 25th, 1789, congress proposes 12 amendments to the constitution. you can see one of the 12 original copies of the bill of rights just outside this room right past signers hall. and what's so interesting is that it contains not ten amendments, but twelve. the original first amendment says that there has to be one representative in congress for every 30,000 inhabitants. if that had passed, there'd be something like 4,000 people in congress today. the original second amendment says that congress cannot raise its salary without an intervening election. that was finally ratified as the 27th amendment in 1992.
1:34 pm
so our first amendment was there third, and it was sent out to the states with a beautiful preface, and i'm going to read that now because it'll inspire us for our discussions. here is the preface to the original bill of rights. the conventions of a number of the states, having at the time of their adopting the constitution expressed a desire in order to prevent misconstruct or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added. and as extending the ground of public confidence in the government will best insure the beneficent ends of its institution resolved by the senate and house, that the following articles be proposed. so those amendments are proposed on september 25th, 1789, and on december 15th, 1791, 225 years ago today, virginia becomes the tenth of fourteen states to approve ten of the original twelve amendments giving the bill of rights the necessary two-thirds majority for ratification. and that is why we are
1:35 pm
celebrating bill of rights day on december 15th, and that's why we are so thrilled to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the bill of rights today. we have a blockbuster lineup for you of four spectacular authors about the bill of rights. here are the constitutional feast that you have in store. we're going to begin with a discussion of america's founding documents with historian steven pulio and former museum director nancy moses. then we'll talk about the second amendment with former national rifle association president david keene. we'll talk about the death penalty with the law professors john guessler, and we'll end this wonderful festival -- i'm so looking forward to this, i'm going to have the chance to interview my great constitutional law teacher and dear friend about his new book about the constitution. so it's going to be great, and i'm so glad that you're joining us. [applause] thank you very much, indeed. and now finally, i will just end
1:36 pm
with a brief plug to you and our wonderful c-span viewers. if you have not yet checked it out, down load the interactive constitution. you can find it online at constitutioncenter.org or download it in the app store, and as you're watching these beautiful panels, follow along. go to the interactive constitution, click on the amendment in question. when david keene is talking about the second amendment, you can click on the second amendment. there you will find the two leading liberal and conservative scholars of the second amendment nominated by the federalist society and the american constitution society, nelson lund and adam winkler, describe what they agree about and what they disagree about, and you can do that as well for the eighth amendment and for all of the beautiful bill of rights amendments that we're talking about today at the interactive constitution at constitutioncenter.org. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our first panel, steven, nancy and charles. thanks so much, have a great day, and happy birthday to america. [applause]
1:37 pm
>> hello. good morning. [inaudible conversations] >> i'm charles cullen, i'm the interim president and ceo of the historical society of pennsylvania. i am a legal historian and have great interest in these documents and in the subject of their protection, their security and their veneration even. and we, i'm going to ask nancy and steve to tell you a little bit about their backgrounds and what led them to write their books. nancy? >> i'm a former museum director. the museum that i was director of is right down the street. it's called the philadelphia history museum. and when i got done with that job, i became very curious in why museums have so much stuff.
1:38 pm
the public never gets to see. so i wrote a book about that. and each chapter was on a different topic. when i got to the end of that book, there was one more topic to write about, and i decided to write about something that had been stolen from the jewish family during world war ii. now, as a museum director, you've got access to other museum directors, so i figured i'd just call up someone who i knew had one of those objects, and they'd let me go and see it. well, they wouldn't. i tried dozens of museums, and nobody would let me see an object that i knew had a hole in its prove nance that core responded to the years of world war ii. so i thought, that's what i want to write about. holocaust art. i was angry. then i -- but what happened was that i decided to put that into
1:39 pm
a broader context and look at a number of objects, all different kinds that had been stolen during times of stress in those countries. and that had eventually made their way back home. so i was writing this book, and i thought, oh, i'm going to write a series of true crime stories set in museums, you know? sort of like, i don't know, agatha christie. but the more i wrote, the more the book started writing itself. and it became not only a series of true crime stories, but also about ethics and law and history. and that's how this book, "stolen, smuggleed, sold," came about. >> it's a very well written book, and one chapter is on the north carolina bill of rights which we'll come back to in a
1:40 pm
few minutes. steve, tell us about your book. >> thanks, charles. my wife and i came here yesterday from boston, and i know there's always a good rivalry between boston and philadelphia. not just the patriots and eagles, but where it all began, you know? so we always have that friendly rivalry, so i appreciate you having me here. "american treasures" is the story, also has its roots in world war ii, and it's about the original declaration, the original constitution, the original copies of the gettysburg address and several other documents that were moved to fort knox in the aftermath of pearl harbor for safekeeping. and i began that story with that piece. i had read a small item in a magazine article about that relocation, and i've done a lot of reading on world war ii, a lot of writing on world war ii, a lot of teaching on world war ii and had never heard that story. and that movement to fort knox then began the largest
1:41 pm
relocation of precious american documents for safekeeping in american history when the library of congress moves about 5,000 boxes of other precious documents to various inland repositories to be out of the way of potential german bombers, saboteurs, real concerns in washington at that point of an attack on washington d.c. so that's one thread or one narrative parallel track of this book. and as i was doing it, i said to myself, wow, why are these documents so important? what gave franklin delano roosevelt the impetus to do this kind of saving and protecting and preserving. and the librarian of congress, why did he feel such a strong stewardship for these documents? so i realized i had to go back and look at the creation of these documents and the different efforts to save them throughout american history. so this book takes you back to
1:42 pm
1776, to 1787, to 1814 when the declaration and the constitution get moved out of washington, d.c. in a linen sack on the back of a wagon when the british burn washington, etc., etc. so it works in a their live kind of way d narrative kind of way, all the way up to 1952 when the documents are finally transferred from the library of congress to the national archives. >> i found your organization, the structure of your book really interesting, and listening to you tell how you got the idea to do the book explains to me your organization better. and it leads me to have some questions that i'll ask you in a few minutes. you write about the constitutional convention and the creation of these original charter documents, the founding documents. but then your next chapter may
1:43 pm
be in washington in 1938 or in 1942, or i think you do go right to the aftermath of pearl harbor. and it goes back and forth. and i found that to be a really good device to think about the importance of these documents. your book, seems to me, to be a book about the protection of charter documents or valuable documents in our history. and nancy's book seems to me to be about what happens when they aren't protected. i mean, there's -- so it's really the two books are well placed together in terms of thinking about security of documents, the importance of documents. i'd like to ask you about, i mean, you're saying that you started with an interest in world war ii. i'd like both of you to talk a little bit about why you think
1:44 pm
these documents are -- why we built a shrine for these documents and why we value in the case of north carolina, which i'd like -- trying to think how to to get into this. let's talk about the bill, the north carolina bill of rights first. because this is bill of rights day, and nancy has written about the recovery of north carolina's lost copy. and i'd like her to talk about it. i'd like you to tell us that story and a little bit about how they, how they got it back, the difficulties, the time span and how they proved it was theirs. >> this actually is a national constitution center story, because part of it happened here. actually, before the building was built.
1:45 pm
so in, at the end of the civil war, the union troops enter raleigh, north carolina, which is the capital city. everybody knows the war's about to end, but the people in north carolina are terrified because it's sherman, and sherman has destroyed the south, right? so the troops come into north carolina, and they're set up, a group of them are set up surrounding the capitol building in north carolina. and when they leave the city, the capitol building has been ransacked, and many important documents have disappeared including the bill of rights. the bill of rights had been folded up four times, it had been docketed when it arrived
1:46 pm
from washington, d.c -- no, new york, sorry. at the time george washington was in new new york when the bif rights was put together. and so it came to north carolina, and the clerk wrote on the back of it the day it arrived and that it was in north carolina's bill of rights. this happened in every state in the union. somebody reported when the document arrived on the back of the document. so north carolina's bill of rights leaves with the union troops, itened up in -- it ends up in ohio, and then it's purchased by a guy for $5 who takes it and hangs it up on the wall of his office. all right? it's hanging there, and so over time it fades, right?
1:47 pm
because it's on vellum, and when he dies, it passes on to his wife who hangs it in her senior citizens home where she is. and it is, and eventually it is turned over to their, to the family's daughters. what's interesting about this is all this time -- it's over a hundred years -- north carolina knows where their bill of rights is. >> they knew it was hanging on the wall? >> they knew it was happening on the wall there. but because some smart guy had, over time, had thought, ah, money. we can sell north carolina's bill of rights back to north carolina. it's illegal to steal documents, government documents. but nobody -- they thought nobody was paying much attention. what they didn't realize was how much north carolina loved that bill of rights.
1:48 pm
they were the only state that refused to sign the constitution without a bill of rights. and they loved it so much that they refused to make it a commodity and refused to buy it back. so the girls, so the daughters get the document, they go to an antique dealer, and we say we've got this great thing we want to sell. they don't know it's illegal to sell it. oops, sorry. and so what they do is they find an antique dealer, and that antique dealer finds another antique dealer, and pretty soon somebody has purchased a copy of the bill of rights, and they're out to make as much money as they can. this is an antique dealer, actually, who appeared here in never many times at the antique show. so he was well known in philadelphia. >> so this is about what period of time? i mean, it was on wall in offices and the -- >> yeah, this is around, well,
1:49 pm
this is around 2000. a little bit -- >> when did they first offer it back to north carolina for sale? >> they offered it the first time around the turn of the 20th century, around -- >> that's what i thought. >> yeah. and then it was offered again in the '30s. >> so several times -- >> yeah. >> -- throughout the 20th century. >> yes. >> it was offered for sale. >> and north carolina refused to buy it because it was theirs, and they didn't want to make it a commodity. >> did they ever threaten legal action? and -- >> they could not, actually, that's a good question, charles. they couldn't because the -- [inaudible] was always hidden behind a dealer or an agent that represented the seller. >> okay. >> so they didn't know who had it, at least that's what they said. >> so it ends up in philadelphia. >> it ends up in philadelphia -- >> a dealer. >> a dealer who tries to sell it to the national constitution center.
1:50 pm
right before the constitution center opened. and the head of the constitution center and general counsel meet with this guy, and they say, well, we'd love to have the bill of rights, and the dealer says, well, we even have a better deal for you. you can have it for free. because we have found a wealthy, two wealthy donors who would like a tax deduction, and they are willing to buy this bill of rights and give it to you for free. this is not unusual. often people with very valuable things donate them to institutions to receive the tax deduction. so that's not unusual. so what happens with the general counsel is that the word get back to the governor -- gets back to the governor of north carolina that the national constitution center has been offered north carolina's copy of the bill of rights.
1:51 pm
and within a day or so, the fbi is on the case. they come to philadelphia, and they say to the head of the constitution center you've got to help us get it back for north carolina. so the fbi arranges a sting -- [laughter] >> true story. >> -- in one of the law offices here in philadelphia. dillworth? my husband's sitting back there. he's a lawyer. so it was the dillworth law firm. and so what happens is that the agent for the guy who owns the bill of rights brings it to the office, everybody looks over this document that's all faded and sort of nasty looking spots on it, but they're in yaw of it because it's -- they're in awe of it because it's a bill of rights. and then the fbi goes crashing through and pushes everybody against the wall, confiscates
1:52 pm
the document and fries it back -- flies it back to north carolina. seven years in court -- >> yeah. >> -- to get this document actually legally back to north carolina. >> so they got it back without having to buy it. >> to buy it, that's right. >> that's certainly an interesting story, and it has some relevance for the copy that's in the exhibit room. i hope you all go see. there's some question about whose it is, but let's come back to that in a few minutes. steve, you write about the elaborate efforts to protect these charters of freedom including the bill of rights that is the final one that was ratifyied, belongs to the federal government. tell us in brief, if you can, i mean, there were so many stories about what happened to them to protect them.
1:53 pm
i guess the greatest one is world war ii. but there were some others. but could you, could you give us a little detail about that and the fort knox, william washington lee -- >> sure. >> some of that. >> sure. >> give us a story about protecting them during wartime. >> yeah. so i think the two most dramatic periods in american history, wars -- the war of 1812 when the original declaration and the original constitution, and when i say "original," i mean the unparchment copies of those concern. >> the one that's down at the national archives. >> that's correct. when they are moving out of washington, d.c. when the british burn washington. so a state department clerk, very quick thinking, takes those two documents, rolls them up, stuffs them in a linen sack, throws them in the back of a wagon and moves them, first, just a couple of miles from d.c. and realizes then that might be
1:54 pm
too close because the british are coming, and they're destroying the whole city. the next morning moves them 35 miles to leaser -- leesburg, virginia, and stores them at a farmhouse along with hundreds of other documents. and i think it's interesting, pleasantton does this in defiance of the secretary of war at the time, the secretary of war, the war department and state department very close buy. the secretary of war sees him packing up these documents and he asks him why, and he said because the british are coming, again, in 1814, and they're going to burn washington. >> the documents were in possession of the state department -- >> correct. >> -- at that time, weren't they? >> yes. >> i mean, they didn't come to the archives until is the 1950s. >> correct. >> i think a lot of people don't know that. >> right. >> so they had a kind of an
1:55 pm
ambulatory existence until the '50s. >> well, they go to the state department, they go the library of congress, then they go to the archives. so the secretary of war says why are you moving these documents, and he says because the british are coming. the secretary of war says they're not coming to washington, d.c., they're interested in baltimore and only baltimore, there's no need to move these. so pleasanton saves them. and as i say, during world war ii, great fears in washington, d.c. of an attack on d.c. after pearl harbor. and a year before, so in the fall of 1940, fdr and the librarian of congress start planning -- even though the u.s. has not entered the war yet -- start planning the move of these documents and many, many other precious documents that are in the library of congress. they see what's happening in europe, they see that millions of british documents have been incinerated during the blitz, the battle of britain.
1:56 pm
they see that the nazis are destroying millions of books, manuscripts, primary source documents throughout europe mostly by jewish writers but other kind of non-aryan documents, if you will. so there's this great fear, they feel a strong stewardship for these original documents. so they start way back in 1940, mcleash says to his staff i need you to catalog everything we have that's utterly irreplaceable and that is essential to the operation of american democracy. and they go out and they come up with six categories. they basically triage these documents. category one are the declaration of independence, the constitution, the gettysburg with address, the articles of confederation and several others are in that top category. the bill of rights is already at the national archives at this point. the library of congress does not have it. category two are things like the notes from the constitutional convention, the journals of the
1:57 pm
continental congress, the presidents' papers, washington diaries, those kinds of things all the way down to six. and in the spring of '41, so about seven months before pearl harbor, the library of congress spends about 700 volunteers and staffers spend about 10,000 hours gathering, assessing, cataloging and packing about 5,000 boxes of documents that they hold. and after pearl harbor, mcleash had asked the treasury secretary, henry morgan thaw, can we use force knox. and originally he wanted to use them for all of the documents. he said there's tons of gold boll onin that -- bouillon in that repository, so i give you 60 cubic feet which is about the size of a freezer. so mcleash has to make the decision which documents are going to fort knox.
1:58 pm
and so the ones that go are the declaration, the constitution, two copies of the gettysburg address, lincoln's second inaugural, the copies of the articles of confederation, the library of congress' copies of the guttenberg -- copy of the guttenberg bible and one british document, the magna carta from 1215, that the u.s -- was on display at the 1939 world's fair in new york city. the british then asked us to hold onto it for safekeeping when war breaks out in europe. and mcleash makes the determination that that document is just as precious and needs to be saved. and also thought it would be ironic and funny to thomas jefferson for the declaration and the magna carta to be move inside the same train -- moved in the same train that drove out to louisville and placed into fort knox. the other 5,000 boxes of documents go to university repositories, university of virginia at charlottesville, washington lee university in
1:59 pm
lexington, vmi in lexington and dennyson university in granville, ohio. they move there. the documents need to be close enough for the library of congress staffers to examine them while they're in hiding, and they also need to be in places where humidity is not an issue, where potential atmospheric, you know, conditions are not an issue, where mites and rodents and termites can't get to them, all of that. so they visit about 60 separate repositories, you know, to kind of figure out where to go, and they decide on those four. and eventually they move them, they move out of vmi because it's considered a little bit more humid than they thought. and so they leave them in three repositories from, basically, winter or/spring of '42 when they all get moved in sleet secrecy, by the way, nobody knows about it, til the fall of '44. so three or four months after d-day.
2:00 pm
there's very little fear of an attack on the american mainland at that point, and the documents come out of hiding and are returned to the library of congress. >> let's jump ahead to when, you know, like ten years later when it's decided that these all should be in the national archives which wasn't built until 1934. the state department has had these, a lot of these presidential papers -- maybe not those founding documents, but the state department had a lot of those things that ended up in the library of congress. or there were transfers made after, in the 20th century when people began to know how to better care for these kinds of things. but i'm interested in our talking a little bit about something that originated in my thinking from a book by pauline maier who wrote about the fact that we have built in the '50s
2:01 pm
but then again, as you write about, at the turn of this century, 2000-2003 or so, the so-called shrine. and that's what it's called. in the rotunda of the national archives. it was shut down for a year or two, and new work was done to protect the documents and encase them in a certain way. but you point out that a million people a year go and look at it. but as i think about that and think about the north carolina story for the bill of rights, it seems to me at least it's worth discussing and thinking about, and that is this. .. hours are by the public
2:02 pm
and i think it is debatable that this public veneration of the documents didn't come about until after world war ii but it carries so you might disagree with me and i might lose the
2:03 pm
argument but i would argue south carolina wanted the bill of rights in the first half of the 20th century they would have fought for it. it was after world war ii, even the cold war had something to do with it when we began to think these documents deserve or are merited the veneration we give them. what do you think of that? what is your reaction to that? >> has anyone been to the national archives and seen the way those documents are presented? it is very theatrical. >> that is part of my point. >> you walk in and it is dark and quiet. it is a shrine and i think the
2:04 pm
spirit of the country because we are such a diverse people need those iconic documents preserved as a shrine to unite us with people and that is part of the ethos of our country. >> we developed that he sows as a country, has an admirable device to hold us together. unlike other countries that don't venerate their documents the way they do. i don't know if it was london moving the magna carta the british to move documents and they moved things out. >> it is on display but i think the magna carta is in the old british library.
2:05 pm
it was on display in the same room with letters from the beatles. it is no shrine. it is just there. not the same veneration. >> i agree with most of what has been said. ours is the first constitutional republic that can trace its founding back to a single document, the declaration of independence. that is unique. you are right, it is a shrine. think about what these documents are. they are certainly artifacts, protected in humidity proof cases, the national archives has computed digital computer that can monitor inch by inch the condition of these parchments so they are certainly artifacts. they are symbols as well, very strong symbols of the founding of the country and what does unite us which is in large part
2:06 pm
of our history and those documents and right there working documents, the declaration of independence, trace the principles of the underpinnings of the democracy to a single paragraph that all men are created equal with unalienable rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. that paragraph is part of every discussion, every political discussion in some way explicitly or implicitly, we don't always get it perfect but it is in the discussion. the constitution is part of our lives on a daily basis was when you hear a newscaster say does congress have enough votes to override a presidential veto, who is going to control the senate in the next election? it is part of our life on a daily basis, think of that,
2:07 pm
artifacts, symbols and a blueprint to the way we run our government and our society. you bring that all together that is why people feel that need for stewardship. >> i agree with everything you are saying but i heard one fact the change is documents were lost. if they were destroyed none of what you say would change. my point, it is not something i am trying to push but i am thinking i guess before thinking about the importance of them as objects we venerate physically, as opposed to the center is here for a similar purpose, but here without those documents we can study, venerate the constitution through the things we are doing
2:08 pm
today that happen here every day without having the documents. i love the documents. i was there in the papers of thomas jefferson for a while. i love these documents and what they mean, nancy wrote about how north carolina used documentary research and the document itself, the edison of documents can't produce large information about those documents. >> you can venerate documents without the documents but there is something about being in the room, something thomas jefferson touched, that is irreplaceable, that experience. >> no doubt about it.
2:09 pm
1 million people a year go through, it says something about the documents and something about our culture and my thoughts, i am not going to write a book about this, polly mayer got into this, our reaction to world war ii, to communism, the continuing threat to our government, way of life led us to think, to come around these documents the way we come around other things and it is already a device that we embraced and come up with, i could use different terms but i don't feel derisive about it. i think it is a good thing but interesting to me as a historian to think about the change in attitudes towards the documents. we read history and when these
2:10 pm
things became so important to people taking care of them, and the merchant in lexington, virginia, might have known about it and thought it was a good thing, but i don't think there was the thought that this becomes -- these documents in them. >> i might disagree with that. think about this. one of these documents became out of hiding in fort knox in december of 44. the declaration of independence comes out of hiding on april 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of jefferson's book when the jefferson memorial opens, the dedication in the jefferson memorial, it has been a real
2:11 pm
slob of a war, we have been at war for 16 months and to boost the morale of the american people having the original copy of the declaration on display would be something helpful to the people so he brings it out of hiding, secret hiding place in fort knox and thousands of americans visit this shrine at the jefferson memorial to come and see. part of it might have been the war years and that gave us the patriotic feeling or fervor or connection the documents but also when you see these documents, or touch other documents you work on, this venerating feeling and the
2:12 pm
example i always use is you go to the shrine and 1 million people go through that shrine to see documents, think about that, that is pretty amazing. when you go there even the kids, my wife is the principle of a parochial school in the boston area and when you are the husband of the principal you are involved in the school and we take the kids to dc, we have done it for five years and even when you have 100 kids in that shrine, that quiet shrine, the kids get it, they get that there is something special about being in their. they don't always know why and i have to refrain from being the obnoxious know it all, the declaration of independence, last year there was a school group nearby and i heard one kid say of me that guy knows what he is talking about, let's go
2:13 pm
listen to him. the kids kind of get where they are. they realize there is something special about that shrine and the fact that these are on display and that says something. >> so much we can talk about with all this. i keep having ideas that are new to me and that is always fun to be stimulated by your remarks and your work and i was thinking about it is not an accident of history but the gettysburg address is key to incorporating the declaration of independence into the constitution. the declaration of independence is just an act of congress. a declaration. it is a legal document in the sense that it declares independence but the gettysburg
2:14 pm
address makes it what it is today and roosevelt's push for a monument to jefferson, part of that was political. any democrats in washington, the lincoln memorial, jefferson thought we should have that but it also has to do with jefferson's words, the declaration, other things that are venerated and that memorial and even truman, roosevelt, with all that, truman, his role in getting the project started when the first volume of jefferson papers appeared but also the strengthening of the national archives and the decision to move those documents down, roosevelt, truman had something
2:15 pm
to do with that but we are talking about things that it is obvious several of our questions, we have just answered some of them anyway but a couple i would like to ask. how much do you think the survival and preservation of founding documents contribute to american patriotism and pride, i think we answered that. a great deal. it may be the reason for these things to be where they are and protected as they are. i think we have answered this also. the power, indirectly the answer to this but i will give you a chance to add to it, whether the power of seeing the actual bill of rights or other artifacts in person, is that experience different from seeing it digitally? >> i am writing a book about
2:16 pm
fakes, frauds and forgeries but i have been thinking about that a lot. i was writing about a guy who absolutely believes that meticulous copies are just as important, of the same value as the real stuff. i don't get it. there is something about being in the space of authentic objects the transports you back in time. >> the power of it. the scholarly, to take a digital, if you take a digital copy of the jefferson letter, and through digitization and other kinds of techniques,
2:17 pm
scribbled over, could in some ways, jefferson would scribble over things so heavily you can't read, you can digitize that. assigned different colors. as long as the ink is different, if he did it a year later the composition of the ink changes and you can assign a different color to the two inc.s and eliminate one of the colors and eliminate the scribble, that has power but that is for getting what they really are but the emotional power of seeing and holding, i read an institution in chicago the jefferson's copy of the federalist papers, two
2:18 pm
copies, congress has the other. to hold it and look at it, you are holding something he held in his hands and that is powerful. that connects you to jefferson in a way you can't otherwise. to stand in front of the bill of rights, the constitution, you are seeing something others looked at, has great power to it. what is the difference between the library of congress and the national archives? the library of congress was established early, and it is a library that in modern times throughout the 20th century, the copyright law specified that
2:19 pm
everything published, the library of congress got two copies so it is a library in the true sense of being a library of everything published a rather things from other countries and manuscripts, of the founding fathers, the presidential library, a trend away from that and american history, just an amazing institution. the national archives was established to take government records. equally important to the operation of the government, government records and those that need to be preserved forever. in your book, all the government records produced. >> the other thing i would add, you are correct on the distinction between the two, they are not moved to the national archives for a long
2:20 pm
time, almost 20 year gap where they were ordered to do so compared to what happened in 1952, there is a tremendous battle between the library of congress and national archives, library of congress is concerned about losing its two most prestigious documents, the declaration and the constitution. they felt the library of congress staffers felt the library of congress should never again reach that level of prestige because those documents were going to be taken from and displayed at the national archives. the library of congress is holding great esteem but that is why it took so long and finally truman says it is time to get these on display and that happens in december 1952. on bill of rights day, december 15, 1952, in an enshrining ceremony, presides over one of truman's last public
2:21 pm
events. he is the lame-duck, i was elected and 52 and truman resides over the documents. >> this is something i would like to ask you to think about a little bit before you answer. i'm not advising you to but you might want to in which case if you do i will ask while you think about it but if we could save one historical american document that has been lost along the way, which one would it be and what happened to it? do you have one in mind? >> i don't need to think right now. the declaration. the declaration, the constitution is the codification of the principles in the declaration and as i said many times, the second paragraph, the second paragraph is the underpinning of american
2:22 pm
democracy, and if i had -- if there is one you have to save i think that is the one you would save. the constitution -- >> one that has been lost that we don't have now. one actual document, historical document that is lost the we don't have the original of. that is the difficulty. >> i agree. having the original declaration to me is more holy than the constitution in terms of actual document. if we know of a document we know existed at one time the original is no longer available to us, i can't think of one. there are lots of jefferson letters that we can't find that
2:23 pm
i would like to have. >> i have a thought. pennsylvania's bill of rights. >> good for you. >> so every state gets a copy of the bill of rights, pennsylvania too. stuck in the war and some other safe place, the state's capital. around the turn of the 20th century, late 19th century, it disappeared. somebody said, somebody who worked in the archivist, the archives, in a carpet bag, the carpet bag went to new york where he sold it and it eventually ends up who knows where? the story about north carolina's
2:24 pm
bill of rights started me thinking what happened to pennsylvania's, and the national constitution thinking about that too. they realized it might have been one that was owned by the new york public library. there is a copy of the constitution in the new york public library. it is not new york. >> it is across the hall. >> it is not new york's copy because new york's copy was destroyed in a fire. whose copy is it? public library's? new york transportation transport of philadelphia's copy?
2:25 pm
the national constitution, very clever, new york, give us back our copy of the bill of rights, they negotiated a very gentle, sharing, which where the agreement the documents days for three years at the public library, nobody talks about who owns it. >> except you can. >> i can because i am an author, i was appointed by governor wolf as chair of the pennsylvania historical commission so that document is hours. >> when you see the bill of
2:26 pm
rights, pennsylvania's copy of the bill of rights, owned by public library, in the other room you will see one of the questions, what steps are being made to preserve our documents, you will see any elaborate, state of the art, the most modern storage facility especially if it is put on display so that will tell you what is being done and also the veneration. it reinforces what nancy has written about the bill of rights and the other documents, how we hold them in such esteem that we go to the lengths you can see in the other room in washington at the national archives. i regret to say i tallied it up. we could go on at least another half hour if not more.
2:27 pm
there is a book signing, steve and nancy would be happy to sign copies in the lobby outside the door. it will be a 15 minute break before the next session begins. we thank you for coming today. [applause] >> next up on booktv from the 2016 bill of rights discussion a discussion of the second amendment with david keene, author of shall not be infringed, and tom donnelly from

4 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on